The European Union (EU) aims to achieve a 100pc recycling rate by 2030, according to its Can Roadmap report of 2021.The recycling rate for aluminium beverage cans in Europe reached an all-time high at 76.1pc in 2018, according to Metal Packaging Europe.
The Union has laid out a recycling roadmap for aluminum beverage cans with targets for 2025 and 2030 to ramp up changes outlined in its December 2019’s Green Deal. The EU’s circular economy action plan 2.0, published in March 2020, has identified the packaging sector as critical to the recyclable-products value chain to achieve its recycling target.
FFact, a Dutch management consultancy, explored three scenarios and has forecasted recycling targets for 2025 and 2030 under each; the EU has supported this study in its report. Ffact’s study covers 27 countries in the EU (EU27), the UK, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. The study has set a conservative recycling rate of 68pc, considering that numbers may be subdued due to an alternative measurement method adopted in the revised Waste Framework and Packaging Waste Directives of 2018.
Scenario 1: Step-wise improvements (business-as-usual)
Producers would further develop current Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) systems to allow their countries to achieve EU or national recycling targets. Some countries are also using the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), and many have almost met their 2019 recycling targets. Countries that haven’t introduced the DRS have officially announced their plans to start. At this pace, the recycling rate should reach around 71pc by 2025. Importantly, it would take another five years to get to 73pc.
Scenario 2: Optimized EPR, improved aluminum cans collection & sorting and more consumer engagement
Countries with EPR systems will optimize aluminum cans collection and sorting technologies to maximize recycling. Adopting the DRS can be limited to a few countries. The forecasted recycling rate of aluminum cans in this scenario is 84pc by 2025 and 86pc by 2030.
Scenario 3: DRS all over Europe
Countries that are yet to introduce DRS attempt to do so in 2025. Up to 2025, the recycling rate will develop in the same way as in scenario 1 and is forecasted to be 73pc. However, after making DRS mandatory in 2025, recycling rates will multiply and reach 98pc in 2030.
There are approximately 60 aluminum packaging plants located across Europe, producing over 75 billion aluminum cans per year, employing 25,000 people. Meanwhile, the region has about 20 can recycling plants, which employ about 1,200 employees. The packaging industry makes up for 17pc of the total European aluminium market, with beverage cans being the most important.